The November Feedback

-by N3GXA

Before anyone becomes confused, I should point out that some of our regular contributors have changed their callsigns recently. I notice this in looking at last month's issue in which Pud/W3DQI had written quite a bit. Pud is now W3YD, (and he still has a lot of ink this month). Roger/N3MIJ is now W3LM. Update your membership list if nothing else.

Speaking of contributors; I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have helped with the Feedback over the past year. At the risk of leaving someone off, here's the writers for 1996: Joe/NA3T, Bill/KI7AO, Kevin/W3DAD, Pud/W3DQI/W3YD, Jim/WI3N, Patty/N3OYN, Roger/N3MIJ/W3LM, Paul/N3NYM, Joe/KU3Z, Bob/WB3KXJ. Thanks to Tim/N3TZH for filling in the minutes on short notice. John/WB3GXW has always worked on the publishing end of it, as has Patty. And on that note, I owe a special thank you to Pud and all the crew at the VEC sessions for putting it all together while I was in the hospital, or recovering from same.

This month, Kevin/W3DAD has provided his article on disk, so look for it embedded in with the rest. Pud/W3YD has provided all sorts of interesting tidbits including the Sweepstakes scores and a nifty item about Pat and Adaire, (the former KE3NZ, aka "Mr. alternator whine"). Also Jim/WI3N has written his last article as president, (as he puts it).

Bill/KI7AO has sent a Northwest Notes column after a bit of a dry spell. As you probably know, Bill is active in search and rescue, and has sent some more information about their local organizations in Washington. (This will probably become part of the next Feedback).

On the sad side of life, Barney/W4MTE has become a Silent Key. I remember him most for some very interesting presentations he gave at club meetings, and his stories from the past as a shipboard radio operator.

The Calendar:

- 27 Nov: On the air net in lieu of monthly meeting; (as is traditional).

- 4 Dec: Bill sked w/KI7AO on 14.217 Mhz at 17:30L

- 7 Dec: ARES training class in Virginia; pre-reg with N3RPQ @ (202)291-2189

- 7 Dec: Main Street Christmas tree lighting; around 3:30 or 4:00p

- 8 Dec: Holiday Banquet at Timbuktu Restaurant

- 14 Dec: Laurel Christmas tree lighting (probably)

- 28 Dec: D.C. Roadrunners Marathon

Does anyone know the oldest college or university in Maryland? This came up at the last social meeting, and I thought it was interesting. Roger/W3LM said that Washington College in Chestertown is the only school that George Washington gave his name to. Of course, I mentioned George Washington University, but not so. Anyway, my dictionary lists the following schools: St. John's College in Annapolis - 1696; Washington College - 1706; The University of Maryland in College Park - 1807; Johns Hopkins - 1876. The oldest U.S. school I could find was Harvard University - 1636. Well, does anybody know any others?

President's ramblings . . .

I hope that lots of you are coming to the Holiday Banquet. I'm sure that you will really enjoy the program. The entertainment will be Dr Richard Wunderlich, aka Dr Wonder. He is a magician who will be doing a mentalist show. I've gone a bit over budget on this one, so if you like the show and want to drop in a couple extra bucks, Pud'll be glad to take it. Don't forget that you can send in your dues ($15 and $7.50 ea add'l family member) along with the banquet check. In my humble opinion, I think the Timbuktu serves some of the best crab cakes this side of Chrisfield. We will also have some very nice door prizes, too. I promise we won't be droning on about antennas or some obscure, arcane aspect of amateur radio. This will be a fun nite for spouses and friends who aren't hams.

This is my last article as president. You don't know how much I've really enjoyed serving the past five years. Special thanks go to those members who have served as your officers and made the club what it is. Mary Ellen/W3VY (who upgraded to Extra and was the first to receive her father's call under the new vanity call sign gates) was secretary the first couple years; Howard/K3IOG who was the repository of the corporate history as vice president; Pud/W3YD who stuck it out as treasurer for the long haul; Roger/W3LM, who succeeded Mary Ellen as secretary; Mike/WB3HUP who took over as vice president; and Joe/KA3UZI who has continued to serve us with distinction as Board Member at Large and faithful representative to F.A.R. Bob Busch/WB3KXJ thankfully (with help from Michele/WK3X) continues to oversee our VEC program, and special thanks to John/N3GXA who has never missed a deadline with the Feedback. Other special thanks to John/WB3GXW, who, along with his head VE duties continues to publish the Feedback for us. Without the involvement of these folks the club would not be the active, forward moving organization it is.

We've tried to have some interesting meetings over the years. Thanks to the club members who've stepped forward to give talks to the membership. Kevin/W3DAD on packet, George/W3PPB on microwave, Pud/W3YD on message handling, John/N3GXA on maps, and I'm sure I'm leaving someone out.

You, the membership, deserve thanks for helping to guarantee a free and decent meeting place by donating your time and talent in siding the Woman's Club. It was a long process and you faithfully kept working until it was completed. You also can pat yourselves on the back for your continued full participation in the club's public service activities. Now that we are becoming involved in the emergency plan of the City of Laurel (both snow and disaster plans and will be plugging into the Laurel Hospital's plan soon) I'm confident that many of you will respond to both training and the actual emergencies. Speaking of community service, we will be helping the City with it's annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and parade again this year. It will be held on Saturday, Dec 7 (the day before our banquet) and those who will be participating should meet at 3:30 pm in the police parking lot (between B and C Sts) for marching orders, pun intended. I think you should be able to park in the city lot.

Mark/N3NTQ, our president-elect, mentioned on our Wednesday nite net that there will be an ARES training session in VA on Dec 7. It will run from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm and areas such as Skywarn, traffic handling, and so forth. If you want to attend, you need to send $5.00 payable to Lenny Schacter/N3RPQ, 1811 Quincy St, NW, Washington, DC 20011-5335. Call him to get a reservation at 202-291-2189. This will be worth the trip for those of us who are gearing up to work with ARES/RACES. Let Mark know if you are going and we can work out a carpool arrangement.

Finally, for the new year, I hope that you will try something new in this great hobby of ours. I finally got up a 136' on a side dipole up about 60 ft. It was interesting to say the least stringing that bear up. It's only 28' short of the length of a football field. This does, however, allow me to work 160M, a band I've never worked before. I haven't been very successful working Bill/KI7AO lately either with my 20M loop in the attic (which turns on all my touch lamps when I key it) nor my new dipole which I thought would be a killer. Looks like I'm going to have to put up another antenna for 20M. Maybe I'll make it out of copper pipe in a 1:2 rectangle with it center fed on the vertical side. We'll see. The point is to try something different once in a while. Work a new band, build a new antenna, go digital, work a satellite, visit a foreign country. Wear a big smile so that everyone will wonder what you are up to. Seriously, I hope that next year you will push yourself up to or past some limit you imagine you will never exceed. The mental exhilaration of pushing the envelope keeps life worth living. Besides, if you live to tell about it, think how much more interesting the conversations will be on 2M.

One last thought. In response to Kay Craige's query for comments regarding whether ham radio is going soft, vis a vis the lack of new people becoming involved with it, I would offer these observations. Pud has a theory that people will become involved if they see people doing it and having fun or contributing something worthwhile to society. We need much better PR. I wholeheartedly agree with that. Somewhere I heard that the ARRL discovered that the average person becomes involved with the hobby about 2 years after they hear about it. I am still a proponent of programs in the school (that's how I got my license in 1963) and talking to groups. I think that coupled with good PR will go a long way to educating folks about us. I'm sure that the internet and sunspots have a good deal to do with the current slump. I'd be interested in hearing at the next meeting what influenced you to become a ham.

Best wishes for the Holidays....

Some Alternative Ideas


It would be nice if we all had a couple of acres of clear land and the resources to erect an antenna system like those that are featured on the front covers of Amateur Radio magazines. Most of us, however, have to make do with an antenna that is a compromise in one or maybe several ways. But even compromise antenna systems can be very effective. This article will discuss some antennas for various restrictive situations.

Living in a neighborhood that permits outside antennas is a decided advantage over the ham who lives in one which does not. Even if your means are very limited, a simple horizontal wire or vertical will get you on-the-air very effectively. For VHF, a simple 5/8 wavelength vertical on the house peak or chimney is very effective over the FM band. Small verticals will not only serve for voice and packet, but will also work with the low orbiting satellites. For SSB/CW work, a small yagi will provide lots of contacts, especially during the contests. The 2 Meter band is very active up and down the East coast. VUCC could be worked with some effort using only a medium power and a five to ten element yagi. These yagi antennas are no larger than TV antennas and can be turned with a small rotor. Heights of 25 to 40 feet will work fine, especially in the Fall and Winter when trees are bare of leaves. For HF the multiband HF vertical is hard to beat. Some say that radials are a problem, but 30 radials, 15 to 60 feet long, will provide a fine ground plane for the antenna. Radials can be slit into the grass carpet and are not a problem during mowing. Since most verticals are electrically short on 80 and 160 Meters, a simple wire dipole will likely work best for those bands. A pair of wires in the form a vee from roof top to back yard fence and fed with balanced line via an antenna tuner will garner lots of low band contacts.

Hams in neighborhoods that prohibit outside antennas have to be a bit more innovative. For VHF packet and FM, mobile antennas mounted on a deck or a vertical wire behind a railing post will be effective although some blocking may occur in the direction of the structure. Attic antennas are also effective and even a small yagi may be mounted in an attic. For HF, a wire vertical may be hidden in a tree, however, the feedline may become a problem. Mobile HF antennas may be mounted (clamped) on deck railings. A counterpoise (artificial ground) may be needed in these cases. A horizontal wire loop can be strung under the eves of a house. For low power this can be small diameter wire, say # 20. This antenna is feed via balanced line and an antenna tuner. Since these antennas are in close proximity to the occupants, only low (100 Watts or less) power should be used. Attic mounted 10 and 2 Meter antennas will permit QSOs via the RS satellites and attic mounted dipoles for the upper HF bands will garner lots of contacts, sunspots permitting.

For those in apartments the antenna will likely have to be indoors, although, some Amateurs have made arrangements to put HF antennas on apartment building roofs. Most apartments have a balcony that may permit the installation of a small VHF or UHF antenna. HF mobile antennas may also work if mounted on an aluminum plate and C-clamped to the railing. Inside, a J-pole constructed from 300 ohm twin lead can be taped to glass doors. If the apartment has two levels, put the antennas on the upper level. HF dipole antennas for 10, 12, 15 and 17 are all possible. Remember to run low power only. If operation is from the same room as the antenna, then limit power to 25 watts or less. If the apartment is in the between other floors of a multi-story building, then antennas should only be run along outside walls and power limited to 25 watts or less.

Another alternative is going mobile/portable. There is plenty of mobile activity on the HF bands which has, in turn, generated a market for items useful for the mobile Radio Amateur. Antennas, mounting brackets, automatic tuners, etc., are all in good supply and make taking a 100 Watt rig on the road rather easy. Operating the mobile station as a portable from a park, pull-off or shopping center permits the use of CW or other digital modes that require a computer. The difficulty in installing a mobile antenna system will likely be in getting a good ground and counterpoise for the antenna. The antenna will also exhibit a high Q, therefore the SWR bandwidth will be narrow. An antenna tuner or matching network will be required and will likely have to be adjusted for small changes in operating frequency.

The point of all this is not to give up just because you find yourself in a situation where an outside antenna is not permitted. As the saying goes. "where there is a will, there is a way". Don't be afraid to experiment with what appears to be a very inefficient antenna You may be pleasantly surprised.

Happy holidays to all! 73, Kevin/W3DAD e-mail me at:


The following is an updated list of LARCers, and their e-mail address. In those cases where the member has both a home and work URL, only the home is listed. If anyone spots a typo, let me know....also, anyone else want to get listed? If so, send me a message at my e-mail address, and I'll update the list next time.



























If you read the list closely, you will see we have welcomed three new members to the club this month: WA3FYZ/Al Brown, and N3LDY/Irv and N3TQE/Sandy McWherter.

Any more e-mail addresses out there?

You will also notice two call sign changes:

Pud/W3DQI -> W3YD

Roger/N3MIJ -> W3LM

Kay Craigie/WT3P, the Atlantic Division Director, asked in her most recent bulletin, if ham radio was getting soft? W3YD sent the following response. Other responses are welcome.


I think we've known, but didn't want to admit, for years that ham radio was getting "soft". So, instead of lingering on the negative, let's consider some positives we can do to add some zest, interest, and activity to our hobby. I contend:

There are at least two things we should consider to reduce the "softness" of our hobby. The first one...I've been harping on for several years. The second a new consideration for me, but not for a lot of concerned amateurs.

1. Increase the PR effort

2. Relax the Morse Code requirement


For all intents and purposes, ham radio does not have a PR department. I don't recall reading anything in the Washington Post, or the Laurel Leader, about the FAR-Fest, and how there would be programs for all ages about amateur radio, demonstrations of the various aspects of our hobby, a test session for those wishing to join our ranks, and loads and loads of amateur radio equipment, both new and used, for sale. (I did read a few advertisements in amateur radio literature about the bingo games to placate the ladies while their hubbies were buying or selling stuff.)

I contend that the way to increase interest in our hobby is to do interesting things, and make people ask how they can participate. I further contend that the way NOT to do this is to go to schools, Lions clubs, church socials, and "brag"....captive audiences really don't give a damn! The way to increase interest is just TO DO things, openly, in public, patting ourselves on the back (sort of), and, by having so much fun, people will come to us!

I contend this works! In the Laurel, MD area the Laurel ARC has been active since about 1979. We are now sought out to help with local communications events, and, after several tries, we have convinced the Mayor and local emergency preparedness officials that we are willing and able to AUGMENT (the key word) their communications during times of duress. I admit we haven't doubled our ranks, but people know who we are, what we can do, and where to find us!


Most of the (voiced or un-voiced) reasons to keep Morse around are included in the following categories:

Morse will get through when all other modes won't. When was the last time this old saw was proven operationally, either in an emergency or not.

I had to learn it, so do you. But we don't have to draw schematics on licensing tests anymore.

It's a filter. Do you want (your favorite band) to start sounding like eleven meters?

Have you listened to (your favorite band) recently? (By the way, most of those converted CBers are turning into really good hams! It's all in your ATTITUDE.)

Morse is a fun part of the hobby, but is slowly losing support from almost all facets of the communications arena. Everyone points to the fact that the Coast Guard dropped it last year; the US DoD dropped it from the MARS program in October 96; several nation members of the IARU are lobbying to have it dropped from the International HF requirements; the list goes on and on...

Morse Code is a international requirement to operate on the HF bands, and until that International Rule goes away, we must keep the Morse Code requirement in the United States. However, we can relax it a little and keep everybody happy...I propose the Novice requirement (5 wpm) be retained through the Advanced Class license, and that 15 wpm be the requirement for Amateur Extra. Then, those who discover the code can enjoy it, and will probably go beyond the 15 wpm, and those who eschew it for one reason or another can enjoy the other aspects of our hobby. (As an aside, we all know folks who gave up on ham radio because of the CW requirement; but after they received the Technician....all of a sudden the Morse impediment "went away"....look how many have upgraded to general and beyond!)


Else where in the FEEDBACK you will see a letter of THANKS from the

Laurel Board of Trade, for our work with the first, annual RIVERFEST. It was

an outstanding success, they claim, and all the vendors made a few bucks and hope to be back next year. It will be bigger! and LARC will surely be

included. In fact, when they were thinking of moving it to Sept 27, I said

I thought that was the Pallotti Run (it is), and the BOT just dropped that

date from consideration.

Thanks to all who supported it this year.....WE WILL BE BACK!


W3YD got a call from the D.C. RoadRunners to verify the 10 & 20 mile race was still a go for Dec 28, and to assure us that we were wanted, needed, and wanted and needed. They also have learned a lesson, and are telling all the runners that the course will be closed at 1600....everyone's going home. We will report on the course

around 0930 (net control around 0900). Please mark this on your will be a good excuse to get some fresh air during the holiday madness!

SWEEPSTAKES SCORES This year was not as good as last year, score-wise, but as good as ever, fun-wise. We used the bucket truck to support our beam and the G5RV, and used equipment loaded by HD/N3LFL, Jim/WI3N, Pud/W3YD, and probably others. We didn't work the clean sweep we wanted, but a lot of operators had a lot of fun. Our score (last year in parens) Points: 27792 (60522); QSOs 193 (392); sections worked 72 (77); hours on the air 14 (19). Well, next year will be better!

AM-PM PAGE: For those of you on the World Wide Web, you may want to look at this page from Adaire and Pat Mason (hence the name, get it?). They have been in Hawaii for almost a year (Pat changed his call from KE3NZ to AH6Z), and are enjoying themselves, as you will see. The URL is

SILENT KEY Sadly we report that F. Barney Norris, W4MTE, became a silent key on November 15. He was not very active in the club, but occasionally came to a meeting, or checked into the late night net to report on his progress re: WAS via satellite. We always had a smiling and cheerful conversation....he will be missed on those late night QSOs.


Well, it's that time of the year to plan for the LARC banquet, and to remember what a great time we had last year! We're going to DO IT AGAIN! This year the banquet date is December 8; the time is 1600 (Mickey's small hand on the FOUR); and the place is the this column for directions....they've changed the roads around that area.

The price hasn't changed....still only $25.00, which includes tax and tip and doggie bag, and helps pay for the few guests, and the entertainment, which, by the way, is still up for grabs. Any suggestions you have will be gladly accepted by Jim/WI3N.

On the menu we have:

1. ROAST PRIME RIB OF BEEF Don't forget to tell

2. BROILED MARYLAND CRAB CAKES me how to cook the beef!

3. STUFFED FLOUNDER Default is medium



Appetizer (choice of one):

chilled tomato juice

chilled grapefruit juice

chilled orange juice

fruit cup

soup du jour

[included in the menu are tossed salad, two vegetables, bread, butter, coffee, sanka or tea, and dessert].

The ABSOLUTE CUTOFF DATE is December 4. Please send your check, with meal preferences, to me

Pud Reaver, W3DQI

6516 Brooklyn Bridge Road

Laurel, MD 20707

Also, since DUES ARE ALMOST DUE, you may include your dues for next year: they are $15.00 for the primary member, and $7.50 for each additional family member.

!!! Check out Jim's article for info on the entertainment!!!